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NEW DETAILS: Deputies recover body of child from Tonto Creek

willa rawlings
6-year-old Willa Rawlings

Deputies identify body as 6-year-old swept away in flooding

UPDATE: 7:24PM - PAYSON, Ariz. (KYMA, KSWT, KECY) - Gila County Sheriff's deputies confirm, a body found on the north side of Roosevelt Lake is that of 6-year-old Willa Rawlings.

Search teams have been scouring the area around the Tonto Creek since November 29. That's when flood waters swept away Willa's parents family when they tried to cross the swollen creek in a military-style vehicle.

Recovery teams found the bodies of her five -year-old brother Colby, and her cousin Austin, also five-years-old, the day after the tragedy. They've continued searching for Willa for the past two weeks.

The tragic discovery comes on the same day Willa's family held funeral services for her and her little brother.

In a statement, the children's grandmother, Trudy Rawlings, writes:

"We feel relieved and we're so grateful for the closure. We express love and gratitude for the volunteers who gave up their time to find her. We believe in the power of prayer. We prayed that we would be at peace."


PAYSON, Ariz. (KYMA, KSWT, KECY) - Gila County Sheriff's Deputies believe they've recovered the body of a little girl swept away by flood waters two weeks ago today. reports the body was found on the north side of Roosevelt Lake Friday. Deputies believe it is 6-year-old Willa Rawlings, but they have yet to officially confirm the body's identity.

Flood waters carried away Willa, her brother Colby, and her cousin Austin on November 29 after her parents tried to drive across the flooded Tonto Creek in a military-style vehicle.

Search and rescue teams managed to recover Colby and Austin's bodies the day after the tragedy, but the search for Willa has gone on.

The discovery comes on the same day as funeral services for Willa and her brother. Austin was laid to rest last week.

Last Saturday another man got washed away after trying to cross the creek. There is no bridge spanning the creek. Arizona Governor Doug Ducey has vowed to find money in the state's 2020 budget to build one.

Arizona News / State & Regional News

Lisa Sturgis

Lisa Sturgis recently returned to KYMA as its Digital Content Director, but she has a long history with the Desert Southwest.


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